Advancing the Research of Japanese-Brazilian Immigrants


The immigrant, in transiting from a traditional space of residence to another space, is transformed into an atopos, without a place of his own in the social and cultural sense.  In this new space he is seen as inopportune and is the object of stereotypes, prejudices, and acts of intolerance.  This study analyzes Japanese immigration within this theoretical framework.  Critical reflection begets the following question, to paraphrase Abdelmalek Sayad, scholar of Algerian immigration to France: how does one remain Japanese after living outside Japan for many years?  When, with the passage of time, is a new space (topus) constructed in Brazil with a complex web of family relations and professional activity?  When are the children socialized and educated through schools, according to the Brazilian standards of being, feeling, thinking, and acting?  In this context the school appears as an unquestionable value for Brazilians of Japanese descent, is an essential instrument for social ascension, and is the place where the rules of civility and Brazilian active citizenship are acquired.  Our research clearly demonstrates that Brazilians of Japanese descent mobilized knowledge to plan and follow trajectories of sociocultural ascension, thereby contributing, alongside Brazilians of other ethnicities, to the construction of a dynamic, modern, multiethnic, and multicultural Brazilian society.

Short Bio

Sedi Hirano is an Emeritus Professor of the Department of Sociology of the University of São Paulo (USP).  He is known for his work on classical sociological theory and on the impact of economic development and globalization on inequality, poverty, and migration, focusing especially on the regions of Latin America and East Asia.  At the University of São Paulo he has held the positions of Vice Provost for Culture and University Extension, Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy, Letters and Human Sciences, and Chair of the Graduate Program in Latin American Integration.  He has also been a member of the Superior Council of the São Paulo State Research Funding Agency (FAPESP).  He is currently a member of the University Councils and the Editorial Councils at both USP and the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP).  He has been a visiting professor at Tenri University in Japan.